Two more Wasps move to France

England internationals James Haskell and Tom Palmer have joined club-mate Riki Flutey in deciding to leave Wasps for French rugby next season. [more]

Two more Wasps move to France

England internationals James Haskell and Tom Palmer have joined club-mate Riki Flutey in deciding to leave Wasps for French rugby next season.

While Flutey heads to Brive to join the likes of Andy Goode, Ben Cohen and Steve Thompson, both Haskell and Palmer have signed for Parisian giants Stade Francais.

Haskell has been an impressive performer for both club and country this year and has established himself as England’s first-choice blindside flanker.

His decision not to remain with the club which brought him through their ranks will be a disappointment to Wasps who had hoped to keep the former Wellington schoolboy despite interest from Stade, Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys and other Guinness Premiership sides, notably Sale Sharks.

Haskell’s departure could also signal a sea change for the England team as he is the first young but established player to move overseas so early in his international career.

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Goode’s recent recall to the England starting XV suggests that team manager Martin Johnson will pick players in form wherever they may be plying their trade but it is unlikely that he will be particularly pleased to see too many of his squad leaving English shores.

Palmer has been a key figure in the Wasps second row since joining from relegated Leeds at the end of the 2005/06 season, although he is currently out injured.

Wasps are expected to soften the blow of losing three of their big-name stars by announcing the re-signing of perhaps their biggest asset, however.

Fly-half Danny Cipriani is likely to put pen to paper on a one-year contract extension later today and Wasps and Lions supremo Ian McGeechan feels the club still has the necessary qualities to succeed at the highest level.

"As ever at this time of the year thoughts shift to next season but our focus is still our current Guinness Premiership campaign,” said McGeechan.

”With much still to play for and all eyes on a top four spot, these players, along with the full squad, will be looking to drive Wasps forward before attention shifts to the 2009/10 season.

"All three of these players have enjoyed great success as a part of the club, on both the European and domestic stage as well as the international arena. Since their arrival and through our academy and development structure we have seen them flourish and that reiterates the great structures in place at the club.

"We are very happy with how we are progressing through the (contract) negotiation period. Positive steps have been made with all of our players and we are now very close to securing our full contingent."

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